Collaborative Divorce

The Collaborative Divorce Approach –

I am a certified mental health professional  trained to work with clients on Collaborative Divorce teams.  As a neutral mental health professional on the team I perform several roles:

  •  Act as process facilitator to assure that meetings go smoothly and that the group is making progress toward completing the case;
  • Act as a consultant who helps both clients develop and focus on what interests they would like to have satisfied as they move through their divorce
  • Serve as a negotiation facilitator who helps clients reach agreements on child-related or other specific issues.
  •  Help parents create a parenting plan for making decisions and spending time with their children after the divorce is completed.
  • Help process difficult feelings that arise during the process, which can result in  preventing a case from finishing.  

Mental Health Professionals’s Responsibilities:

  • Coordinates and oversea all joint collaborative meetings
  • Keep meetings on track and working towards a final settlement
  • Meet with both parties individually and/or together at various times during the process, between joint meetings, to work towards resolution of specific issues, or intervene if communication becomes problematic. 
  • Help to develop a Parenting Plan if their are children in the family
  • Help develop a Pet Plan if pets are involved

Neutral mental health professionals do not perform therapy for either client or the couple. Instead, they help the parties and the collaborative  team work at their optimal level.

Why Choose Collaborative Law

The collaborative law approach allows couples to end marriages with civility and respect, making decisions together to help create the best post-divorce life possible for all family members. Collaborative law provides you with a better, smarter alternative to a traditional courtroom divorce:

  • You have control of your own divorce process and outcome.
  • You seek a civil, respectful, creative and individual process for ending your marriage.
  • You recognize the importance of future relationships – even after divorce.
  • You believe it is important to protect children from the harm litigation can inflict.
  • You place a high value on personal responsibility for handling conflict with integrity.

How is Collaborative Law Different From Other Approaches

  • Provides divorcing couples an innovative, cost-effective alternative to a traditional courtroom divorce.
  • It provides the convenience, privacy, autonomy, and safe space to facilitate a settlement tailored to the unique needs and situation of the divorcing couple and their family.
  • Seeks solutions allowing each person impacted by a divorce – especially children – to have the best post-divorce lives possible.

It’s Cost-Conscious

The reason collaborative divorce often saves money is due to the structure of the process. The collaborative divorce involves an interdisciplinary team which consist of a therapist trained in the collaborative mode, called a Mental Health Professional, a Financial Neutral, or financial planner, that looks at your joint finances, and a lawyer for each party that is trained in the collaborative divorce approach. Having both parties and the collaborative team meet altogether helps to more quickly resolve issues and make joint decisions faster. This cuts down on costs, and any court expenses a litigated divorce would incur. In collaborative divorces the parties do not go to court, but work to create their own settlement.

Another advantage of collaborative divorce is that both parties meet individually with the therapist and the financial planner to work out a financial plan and a parenting plan for the settlement. Working on these plans with the team neutrals to resolve these issues is much cost effective than meeting with the lawyers for the same billable hours. When decisions can be made in the off- line meetings with neutrals, and then brought to the joint collaborative meetings for discussion, valuable time can be saved.

In addition, you can choose to include a clause in your collaborative divorce agreement that states you will go to Mediation-Arbitration if parties become unable to make necessary decisions after 5-6 meetings. This will prevent the divorce process from having an unending time frame, and prevent parties from exiting the process and going to court. Divorce proceedings that extend for long periods of time are very costly and emotionally disruptive as well.

It’s Personalized

In collaborative law, control isn’t ceded to a judge unfamiliar with a family’s unique circumstances. Instead, the divorcing couple works with collaborative professionals — and without court interference — to arrive at an informed solution designed to deliver the most positive outcome possible for the family.

It’s Confidential

Collaborative professionals control a confidential process — in an office rather than a courtroom setting — that provides the resources, structure and privacy needed for a divorcing couple to consider their unique circumstances and arrive at a mutually-agreeable settlement.

It’s Family-focused

Parents divorcing collaboratively are better able to protect their children from the damaging effects of a highly contentious divorce and preserve more of their mutual respect for each other as parents.

The Collaborative Law approach is a settlement process that focuses on:

  • Helping families find their way to respectful resolution
  • Creating a safe environment for the parties to express
  • Negotiating and resolving conflict without going to court.
  • Helps all family members move forward in a positive way – focused on the future, rather than dwelling on arguments and disputes of the past.

The Collaborative Law process recognizes even though a marriage may be ending, relationships and obligations often continue, especially when children are involved. It allows spouses to formulate agreements that focus on their most important individual and mutual goals. 

Talking With Your Spouse About the Collaborative Divorce Process 

 It is important for both husband and wife to believe that the Collaborative Law approach is the best way for them to get through the divorce process with as little damage as possible to anyone’s finances, emotional well-being or important relationships.

If your relationship with your spouse is cordial, you can give him or her information about the process and website references. If, however, you think your spouse might be more likely to appreciate the information if it comes from a source other than you, think about what approach would appeal to your spouse, as well as what might upset him or her. Family members, pastors, counselors and mutual friends often have the ability to present information in a way that makes someone feel comfortable. The same information, if offered by a spouse, might be viewed with suspicion and not have the same impact.

Here are some possible ways to introduce your spouse to Collaborative Law:

  • Talk to your spouse directly if the lines of communication are open and if you and your spouse have agreed to get a divorce.
  • Refer you spouse to the Collaborative Divorce website for a more complete understanding of the process –  
  • Provide your husband or wife with articles, information and references from other couples that have used this method
  • Think about whom you can talk to and educate about Collaborative Law who also has your spouse’s ear.  

Create a Collaborative Team

Once you and your husband or wife have agreed to use the Collaborative Divorce process, you will need to select an attorney who specializes in Collaborative law and consult with them about your case.  Each spouse must be represented by a separate, independent lawyer in the Collaborative process.  Both parties will also choose a financial professional trained in collaborative law.  The CLI-TX web site  has a handy, easy-to-use resource where you can locate a Collaboratively-trained attorney, neutral mental health professional, or a neutral financial professional in your area.  Beware of Lawyers advertising that they are trained in Collaborative Divorce but have not really engaged in collaborative cases.  You may want to ask How many collaborative divorce cases they have been involved with in the past two years.  

 Each team generally consists of 4 professionals:  An attorney for each party, a neutral mental health professional, and a neutral financial planner,  if everyone feels it would be beneficial. Not all cases will require a full professional team, but most clients do benefit from the expertise that the neutral professionals bring to the table. In addition, having a team  usually saves you money because you will work with the most qualified, least expensive professional when you need guidance on specific topics related to your divorce.


Contact Lisa

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Office Address
4131 Spicewood Springs Road
Suite D-3
Austin, TX 78759

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(512) 643-2851
(512) 502-5399 (fax)

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Lisa Rothfus
4131 Spicewood Springs Road
Suite D-3
Austin, TX 78759